2016-05-20

Trinity and Humility


A Plea to All Theological Nerds (like myself) for Trinity Sunday:

I think much of the reason why we don't talk about the Trinity more is due to insider backbiting. Clerics and Scholars who think they have a handle on the Trinity have a habit of being snide, backbiting, and, well, bitchy, toward anyone who does not talk about the Trinity using their preferred formulae, metaphor, analogy, or lack of analogy. If you speak in the language of Eastern Orthodoxy, the Westerns gripe. If you speak in Western Augustinian terminology the Easterns gripe. If you use economic language, you get accused of denying the immanent Trinity. If you use immanent or essentialist language, you get accused of hellenizing and philosophizing the Biblical narrative.

If you use a folksy analogy, people from both sides will find a heresy that they think best fits your analogy, even if that is intentionally not what you tried to imply. And God forbid you should try and reframe the Trinity using any philosophical categories birthed in the Enlightenment or after. And if you describe the Trinity in a way that is long enough and nuanced enough to placate (most) of the Theo-haters, then the 98% of people who are non-specialists will (rightly) complain that your explanation is unnecessarily complex and confusing. And yet, if you don't talk about the Trinity and choose something that most people can relate to, you get called a heretic, Arian, or even worse, Joel Olsteen.

So, perhaps in our efforts to describe and explain the Trinity we should exercise the very thing that God is, the very thing that Christ embodied, namely: Love. While I absolutely believe that some descriptions of the Trinity are closer to The Truth than others, all are necessarily limited, incomplete, and flawed. And when we meet God face to face we will all find out how wrong we are, despite our best attempts to be accurate. So perhaps in humility and Love we could cut each other some theological slack, and gently suggest fuller understandings to those who seem to lack important aspects of Trinitarian understanding.
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.